sexta-feira, 16 de janeiro de 2015

The Photographer's Eye, 2

The Photographer's Eye, 2
the thing itself

The Photographer's Eye, 1 - introduction
The Photographer's Eye, 3 - the detail
The Photographer's Eye, 4 - the frame
The Photographer's Eye, 5 - time
The Photographer's Eye, 6 - vantage point
The Photographer's Eye, 7

The Thing Itself  [8]

The first thing that the photographer learned was that photography dealt with the actual; he had not only to accept this fact, but to treasure it; unless he did, photography would defeat him. He learned that the world itself is an artist of incomparable inventiveness, and that to recognize its best works and moments, to anticipate them, to clarify them and make them permanent, requires intelligence both acute and supple.

But he learned also that the factuality of his pictures, no matter how convincing and unarguable, was a different thing than the reality itself
Much of the reality was filtered out in the static little black and white image, and some of it was exhibited with an unnatural clarity, an exaggerated importance. 
The subject and the picture were not the same thing, although they would afterwards seem so. 
It was the photographer's problem to see not simply the reality before him but the still invisible picture, and to make his choices in terms of the latter.

This was an artistic problem, not a scientific one, but the public believed that the photograph could not lie, and it was easier for the photographer if he believed it too, or pretended to. 
Thus he was likely to claim that what our eyes saw was an illusion, and what the camera saw was the truth. Hawthorne's Holgrave, speaking of a difficult portrait subject said: 

"We give [heaven's broad and simple sunshine] credit only for depicting the merest surface, but it actually brings out the secret character with a truth that no painter would ever venture upon, even could he detect it… the remarkable point is that the original wears, to the world's eye… an exceedingly pleasant countenance, indicative of benevolence, openness of heart, sunny good humor, and other praiseworthy qualities of that cast. The sun, as you see, tells quite another story, and will not be coaxed out of it, after half a dozen patient attempts on my part. Here we have a man, sly, subtle, hard, imperious, and withal, cold as ice"5
In a sense Holgrave was right in giving more credence to the camera image than to his own eyes, for the image would survive the subject, and become the remembered reality
William M. Ivins, Jr. said 
"at any given moment the accepted report of an event is of greater importance than the event, for what we think about and act upon is the symbolic report and not the concrete event itself."6 
He also said:
"The nineteenth century began by believing that what was reasonable was true and it would end up by believing that what it saw a photograph of was true."7

5. Hawthorne, op. cit., p. 85.
6. William M. Ivins, Jr., Prints end Visual Communication.Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1953, p. 180.
7. Ibid., p. 94.
Baseado numa exposição de 1964, o livro The Photographer's Eye foi publicado em gravura em 1966 e reimpresso em 1980 e 2007.
J. Nevins publicou o conteúdo textual do catálogo publicado pelo Museu de Arte Moderna de Nova Iorque, que transcrevemos aqui.

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